The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is deeply committed to the care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as a key responsibility of the Church. This commitment is founded in the teachings and mission of Jesus Christ, and lived out with love and justice to ensure the dignity of each human person.

When the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse commenced, it had three tasks: to bear witness to what had happened; to provide just responses to those who had experienced and suffered abuse; and to recommend ways to ensure that institutions were child- safe. This period opened a great wound for many, but also became the catalyst to the intentional building of practices and behaviours that would centre always on the safety and care of the most vulnerable.

Our safeguarding commitment articulates our recognition of the need for, and action towards, a culture of safety that ensures children and young people can actively and fully participate in the life of the Church and realise their potential in a faith community.

Commitment of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne

We are committed to upholding the safety and dignity of each child and young person, and to ensure that they are able to grow and develop in a caring and supportive environment in our Church.

The Catholic Church proclaims that all human life is sacred, and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation and hope for the flourishing of humanity and society—a message that is at the heart of the Gospel. As such, all in the Catholic Church have a moral, legal and mission-driven responsibility to create nurturing environments where children are respected, where their voices are heard and where they are safe and feel safe.

We acknowledge that preventing child abuse requires proactive approaches across policies, procedures and practices consistent with the requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards. Through these policies, procedures and practices, we strive to prevent abuse in the first instance and to respond effectively and pastorally if abuse does occur.

We are committed to creating a child-safe culture across the Archdiocese that safeguards children and young people from all forms of abuse.

We are resolutely committed to ensuring that all those engaged in the Church are aware of the inherent vulnerability of children and young people, and that they acknowledge their own responsibility to promote the dignity of children and young people and their fundamental right to be respected and nurtured in a safe environment.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Every person involved in the Catholic Church has an obligation to understand the important and specific role he or she plays, individually and collectively. Together we ensure that the wellbeing and safety of all children and young people are at the forefront of everything we do and every decision we make.

We are committed to zero tolerance of all forms of child abuse and discrimination, and will always act to safeguard children and young people and report suspected abuse promptly to the appropriate authorities.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne sets clear behavioural expectations and has an overarching commitment to the protection of children and young people from all forms of abuse. All child safety concerns and allegations will be treated seriously and reported in line with our moral and legal obligations as articulated in the Safeguarding and Wellbeing of Children and Young People Policy and other Safeguarding of Children and Young People Framework documents.

We are committed to ensuring that all people who have, or may be expected to have, contact with children and young people acknowledge their responsibility to safeguard children and young people from abuse and discrimination.

We acknowledge and welcome diversity in our Church community. We recognise that cultural safety and inclusion serve as protective factors in relation to child safety—particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, those from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with a disability, and children and young people of diverse sexuality—and are sensitive to the impact these factors may have on child safety.

Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical Fratelli tutti (2020) that through the light of the Gospel, Christians are compelled to recognise Christ in each of our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable: ‘Faith has untold power to inspire and sustain our respect for others, for believers come to know that God loves every man and woman with infinite love and “thereby confers infinite dignity” upon all humanity’ (§85).

Our young people are our present and our future. How we value them today will nurture a generation confident in the knowledge that each individual person matters and is cared for, and will prepare them to carry this legacy forward for their own children and beyond. May our commitment today, as followers of Christ, be the shared responsibility that celebrates, empowers and protects our young people always.

Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Archbishop of Melbourne

2023 Archbishop Comensoli 3